Free Market Foundation
The Free Market Foundation (FMF) is an independent public benefit organisation founded in 1975 to promote and foster an open society, the Rule of Law, personal liberty, and economic and press freedom as fundamental components of its advocacy of human rights and democracy based on classical liberal principles.
South Africa’s constitution and legal system is being assaulted by government despite the fact that they have sworn to uphold it. Although the Rule of Law is a founding provision of the Constitution and should act as a powerful brake on excessive interventionism by the executive branch of government, it has not been effectively enabled to play its proper deterring role.
Friedrich von Hayek, in his book, The Constitution of Liberty wrote, “If the ideal of the rule of law is a firm element of public opinion, legislation and jurisdiction will tend to approach it more and more closely. But if it is represented as an impracticable and even undesirable ideal and people cease to strive for its realisation, it will rapidly disappear. Such a society will quickly relapse into a state of arbitrary tyranny.”
In South Africa it is not so much that the ideal is “represented as an impracticable and even undesirable ideal” but that its true significance has not been realised or understood by the general public or the electorate, many of whom are, tragically, only semi-literate or illiterate. Some law makers, while aware of the constraints imposed by the Rule of Law, have sought, deliberately, to subvert it.
Rule of Law Project
The FMF has concluded that, given the political dynamics, opposition political parties have little chance in the foreseeable future of halting the advance of authoritarian government. One real hope of protecting the freedom of citizens lies with the Constitution, the courts, and the force of public opinion.
The dual purposes of the Rule of Law Project is to give intellectual substance to section 1(c) of the Constitution, and to persuade South African opinion leaders to support the ideal of the Rule of Law. The Project thus attempts to ensure that anyone involved in writing legislation and regulations, considering their parliamentary approval, or interpreting the law, does so in accordance with the law.
This will only become possible if people with influence in public affairs become fully aware of what the term means, the significance of the fact that it is a founding provision of the Constitution, and recognise that all South African legislation and regulation must be consistent with it.